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New Features Coming to SQL Server 2005 in Beta 3

When Microsoft delivers the Beta 3 version of SQL Server 2005, formerly code-named "Yukon," it will carry a number of feature enhancements that weren't available in the more broadly distributed Beta 2 version.

Between delivery of Beta 2 in July and the planned release of Beta 3 by the end of this year, Microsoft will add new features for extraction, transformation and loading of data, new business intelligence functionality and will incorporate the ActiveViews technology it acquired this spring into the database.

Company executives discussed the new functionality for Beta 3 at the Microsoft SQL Server PASS Community Summit in Orlando, Fla.

ETL Overhaul in Yukon Gets a New Name

Because Microsoft is rewriting all the code for its extract, transformation and load engine for SQL Server 2005, it's probably appropriate to rename the service.

Out with Data Transformation Services (DTS), the name since ETL became part of the core database code in SQL Server 7.0. In with SQL Server Integration Services, the new name that emerged Wednesday at SQL Server PASS.

"There is not a single line of common code between DTS and SQL Server Integration Services," declares Alex Payne, senior product manager for SQL Server. "It's a full-bore, production, enterprise-capable service for integrating information into your business intelligence world."

The ETL engine is enhanced for SQL Server 2005 Beta 3, a test version scheduled to be available by the end of this year. But Payne says there is more to SQL Server Integration Services than traditional ETL.

The new set of services will be able to extract data from a Web service or XML data source. They will also be capable of allowing text mining, reporting and scoring while data is being moved in the data flow, according to Microsoft.

Analysis Services Gets a Boost

Once users get their data from multiple sources into SQL Server 2005, the Beta 3 version will put some new tools in the toolbox of SQL Server Analysis Services, which combines OLAP and data mining functionality. Microsoft developers added an enhancement on the OLAP side called proactive caching, which translates into a system that dynamically configures itself to synchronize the latest updates to the underlying data source.

According to Microsoft, the feature will provide better performing applications in real-time environments. Company officials also say it will relieve an architectural burden on customers developing their own OLAP-based applications. Because of the proactive caching, developers will no longer have to understand the esoteric differences involved in deciding among Microsoft's ROLAP, MOLAP and HOLAP flavors of OLAP.

Other enhancements to Analysis Services available in Beta 3 will include the ability to develop key performance indicators (KPI) in the engine, multiple data perspectives and five new algorithms in the extensible data mining component.

Microsoft Clarifies Plans for ActiveViews

Less technically sophisticated users will find more ways to explore data in SQL Server 2005 starting with the Beta 3 version. Microsoft on Wednesday announced that the ActiveView technology it acquired in April will be built into SQL Server 2005.

ActiveViews offered a Web-based report authoring and end-user query tool based on Microsoft’s .NET framework that was designed to exploit SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services. The product was intended for business users with no development expertise.

Microsoft rewrote the tool with a more Microsoft-like user interface and is renaming it the SQL Server Report Builder. Placing the tool inside SQL Server 2005's Reporting Services, Microsoft bills the technology as bringing self-service, ad hoc reporting capabilities to its ever-broadening SQL Server portfolio.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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